Skip to Content


September 29, 2010

WGBH Lauds Passage of Communications Accessibility Act

Legislation by Rep. Markey includes blind and deaf individuals in digital media

As a pioneer in media access for deaf and blind audiences, Boston public broadcaster WGBH commends yesterday's Congressional passage of The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

The landmark legislation by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) promises to bring all of the benefits of modern digital technology to people with disabilities.

Through its Media Access department, WGBH has been involved for more than 35 years in helping make virtually every innovative development in media and technology accessible and inclusive of all members of our society. This new legislation builds on and ratifies many of those efforts.

"Congressman Markey has been a leader and tireless advocate in ensuring that people with disabilities are not left behind as media changes through technology," said Larry Goldberg, director of the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM). "The new legislation enacted today not only reinstates a previous mandate for video description, but also paves the way for widespread use of cutting edge technologies for accessibility."

WGBH launched captioned TV in 1972 and video description (for people who are blind or visually impaired) in 1990 - its first two major initiatives in assuring equal access to television for all Americans. In 1993 WGBH created NCAM and began to develop technology standards and solutions for the emerging media of the coming two decades, including these projects related to the provisions of the new legislation: captioning and description on the web, automated alerting of blind people when emergency information is televised, talking set-top cable boxes and other R&D projects funded by Federal grants and strategic partnerships with industry.

"WGBH has always sought practical, affordable and pragmatic pathways toward full media and technology inclusion for people with disabilities - solutions that work for consumers as well as the companies that serve them," said Goldberg. "Innovative and accessible technologies can be built into the fabric of our lives and our tools. This legislation gives added impetus to adoption of the kinds of inclusive mainstream designs and inventions that WGBH's staff and its collaborators throughout the world are working on every day."

For more information on the Media Access Group at WGBH, visit

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcaster, producing such award-winning PBS series as Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Curious George, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children's series. WGBH Radio serves listeners from Cape Cod to New Hampshire with WGBH 89.7, Boston’s NPR Station for News and Culture; 99.5 All Classical. WGBH also produces the national radio news program The World. WGBH is a leading producer of online content and a pioneer in developing educational multimedia and new technologies that make media accessible for people with disabilities. Find more information at

Press Contact:
Mary Watkins